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Easing into Engineering Education: An Orientation Program for Graduate Students

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Graduate Student Experience

Tagged Divisions

Graduate Studies and Student

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.485.1 - 25.485.16



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Paper Authors

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Stephanie Cutler Virginia Tech


Walter Curtis Lee Jr. Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Walter Lee is a Graduate Assistant and doctoral student in engineering education at Virginia Tech. His primary research interests focus on diversity and student retention. He earned a B.S. in industrial engineering from Clemson University.

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Lisa D. McNair Virginia Tech

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Lisa McNair is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Her research includes interdisciplinary collaboration, communication studies, identity theory, and reflective practice. Projects supported by the National Science Foundation include interdisciplinary pedagogy for pervasive computing design, writing across the curriculum in statics courses, and a CAREER award to explore the use of e-portfolios to promote professional identity and reflective practice. Her teaching emphasizes the roles of engineers as communicators and educators, the foundations and evolution of the engineering education discipline, assessment methods, and evaluating communication in engineering. She serves as Assistant Department Head for Graduate Education in her department at Virginia Tech and co-directs the Virginia Tech Engineering Communication Center.

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Easing into Engineering Education: An orientation program for graduate studentsOrientation programs are an important contributor to a student’s transition into anacademic program. Transitioning into a doctorate program can be difficult, as eachprogram undoubtedly has a unique set of expectations and norms to which a student mustacclimate. Transitioning into an engineering education doctoral program is no exceptionand the additional difficulty of shifting from a more technical background to aneducation-based program exists. While researchers have examined the orientation processin various environments, little, if any, research has examined an effective means oftransitioning students from a traditional engineering program into an engineeringeducation doctorate program. The purpose of this project is to ease this transition throughthe development of a formal orientation program; to complete this, the ADDIE model fortraining design was followed. The first step was a thorough analysis of the department,student requirements, tasks, personnel, and knowledge, skills & attitudes (KSA) requiredby a doctorate student in engineering education. Then we developed learning objectivesand a plan of instruction that would optimize the learning, retention, and transfer of theinformation introduced during the orientation. Next, we developed the actual orientationprogram, which was followed by implementation of the program prior to the Fall 2011semester. Lastly, we assessed the effectiveness of the program through a post-survey,designed to capture the reaction of the participants shortly after orientation, and a focusgroup, designed to provide more reflective feedback after the students have completedalmost completed a semester in the program. This paper will discuss the (1) analysis, (2)design, (3) development, (4) implementation, and (5) evaluation of an orientationprogram designed by graduate students specifically for new graduate students entering anengineering education doctoral program. There is minimal research on the transition froma traditional engineering program to engineering education, specifically for graduatestudents, and our project will provide insight into this transition and a means by which toaid in the transition. The goal of this paper is to bring added attention to the experience ofnew engineering education students and provide existing and future departments with asystematic process for developing an orientation program that will assist students as theymake this transition.

Cutler, S., & Lee, W. C., & McNair, L. D. (2012, June), Easing into Engineering Education: An Orientation Program for Graduate Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21243

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